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Colts Sign Pro Bowler Ryan Kelly to a 4-Year, $50 Million Contract Extension—Making Him the NFL’s Highest Paid Center

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Oakland Raiders v Indianapolis Colts Photo by Justin Casterline/Getty Images

The Indianapolis Colts announced on Thursday that the team has signed Pro Bowl center Ryan Kelly to a multi-year contract extension.

Per ESPN’s Adam Schefter, it’s a new 4-year, $50 million contract extension (with $34 million guaranteed) that effectively makes Kelly the league’s highest paid center in football right now:

Out of all the Colts’ imminent 2021 free agents—a list that includes quarterback Philip Rivers, wide receiver T.Y. Hilton, and defensive end Justin Houston among others, Kelly had to be general manager Chris Ballard’s top priority—and he got it done a little early.

The former 2016 first round pick out of Alabama for the Colts has ascended into one of the league’s best centers—having made his first career Pro Bowl appearance in 2019.

Kelly is smart, strong, tough, and athletic—with the skill-set to consistently get to the second level of opposing defenses. At 27 years old, he’s pretty much the complete package at center:

While injuries limited him earlier in his career, Kelly started all 16 games last season and was an anchor for one of the NFL’s best offensive lines—as the star studded unit’s ‘nucleus’:

“Really proud of Ryan Kelly,” Colts general manager Chris Ballard said during his end of year press conference. “16 weeks, fought through [injuries]. Tremendous leader. Is really starting to understand about the group and bringing the group together, the o-line, and being the leader of the group. And fun to watch his growth.”

Per Pro Football Focus (subscription), Kelly was their 7th best graded center overall last year with a +73.0 grade. He allowed just 1 sack and 21 total QB pressures—while committing a mere 6 penalties collectively in 2019.

When asked how he would celebrate his lucrative second NFL contract on Thursday night, Kelly had an ‘every man’ response—which speaks to the type of humble young man he is from Ohio:

For a Colts franchise that really had a turnstile at center post-former great Jeff Saturday’s departure in 2012—shuffling though the likes of Samson Satele, A.Q. Shipley, Mike McGlynn, Phil Costa (retirement), and Jonotthan Harrison, Kelly really has been a revelation at the position since arriving in 2016.

He should be a fixture in the middle of the Colts offensive line for plenty of years to come too—with his well-earned contract extension.